Skip to main content

Full text of "Verdict On India"

POMP  AND  CIRCUMSTANCE                                  23

But New Delhi, in spite of its magnificence, has no such
assurance. It is the child of compromise, and as a result it has
never come to life. That is perhaps the most extraordinary thing
about it, the fact that even in the throng and throb of war it
remains, obstinately, an architect's print. One has a Lilliputian
sense of having strayed into a model city, of strolling through a
series of immense dolls' houses. Surely these walls are only made
of cardboard, dyed terracotta ? And these sentries—are tfcey not
stuffed, and animated by some ingenious sort of clockwork ?
The sky above—is it not really the lid of a glass case ? And is it
not inevitable that at any moment some god will come along, lift
the lid, and sweep the whole pigmy contraption into limbo ?

To ask the British to Quit India in New Delhi would be super-
fluous. Thev have never arrived.

rv
Shock number three was really a composite of man;,' minor
shocks, all caused by the Brobdingnagian nature of the sur-
roundings. Nearly all my early Viceregal impressions must be
prefaced by some such word as * vast' or 'gigantic.5 It was a vast
distance from my bedroom to the A.D.C.'s room, where we
gathered before dinner, and all the way down, the lofty corridors
there were groups of gigantic servants in white and gold, at
intervals of about ten yards. As one appeared at the end of the
corridor, the first group of servants—(there were seven or eight
in each lot)—rose from their haunches, and stood to attention,
gazing fixedly ahead till one had passed. Then, they sank down
to the floor again. By this time, the next group was rising, and
so on.. .as it seemed.. .ad infinitum. It was a very pretty sight,
as one walked on, and on, and on, with this perpetual rise an,d
fall of the giants in white and gold; there was a strange sense of
partaking in a sort of oriental Sylphides. I kn,ow some women
—(they shall be nameless)—who would adore it; they would
„ never stop walking up the corridors imagining that they were the
Queen of Rumania, pleasingly thrilled by all this subservience.
Por me, it was an embarrassment—indeed, a penance. I can